This story was a part of a collection that I read quite some time ago. Here are the details:

  • Language: English
  • Year: Unknown; but I read it sometime in the early 2000s (likely 2002-03).
  • What I remember:

    A king has a bizarre way of judging crimes in his kingdom. The accused is given the choice to open either of the two doors in front of him. One door has a Tiger inside and the other has beautiful lady. If the accused opens the door and the lady walks out, his innocence is proven and he gets to marry her. If the tiger walks out, he is immediately devoured by the beast.

    One day the king finds out that his daughter is on love with one of her slaves. So the king decides to punish him.

    The story ends with a cliffhanger: the king puts the slave in front of the doors and he slowly walks up and opens the left door.

The story is quite old, as far as I can remember and is set probably during the ancient Greek/Roman times.


1 Answer 1


This famous story is called The Lady Or The Tiger (1882), by Frank R. Stockton.

The cliffhanger ending is complicated by the fact that the princess knows which door is which, and directs her lover to open the (actually right, not left) door. The man opens it without hesitation.

The story is famous because it asks the reader to decide the ending for themselves.

"Now, the point of the story is this: Did the tiger come out of that door, or did the lady ?

The more we reflect upon this question, the harder it is to answer. It involves a study of the human heart which leads us through devious mazes of passion, out of which it is difficult to find our way. Think of it, fair reader, not as if the decision of the question depended upon yourself, but upon that hot-blooded, semi-barbaric princess, her soul at a white heat beneath the combined fires of despair and jealousy. She had lost him, but who should have him?"

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